Royal Roads Tourism

Victoria, BC

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A Day in the Life at the Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre, China- by Rachel Small


Welcome to my work abroad dream at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre.

Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre is located in the Yuexiu district of Guangzhou, Guangdong in China. It is a district that is known to be the “gateway of the Chinese foreign trade”.

Crowne Plaza- Guangzhou City Center

First of all, I will like to introduce the area of Guangzhou. The language that is spoken is mainly Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. Guangzhou is an amazing place to live as a foreigner in my personal opinion. You are able travel to different parts of China, Hong Kong, and Macau by train, metro, bus, and ferry. It also allows you the chance to travel around Asia with less travel time and expenses. As well, many foreigners within the Guangzhou area gather around to places like “The Brew”. The Brew is a Canadian operated pub that hosts the best North American burgers and wings within Guangzhou. On my first day in Guangzhou and Canada’s Day, I went to The Brew to meet with my new coworkers and fellow foreigners in Guangzhou.  It is really a mix of Canadian pub atmosphere and Chinese pub culture.  During, my free time, I usually walk around Yuexiu district for around 30 minutes in different directions and visit “The Oppa House” to eat Korean food. So far, I have explored places like Panyu, Zhujiang New Town, and Tianhe District. Within a few weeks, I will be visiting Hong Kong to get a new phone since mine doesn’t work here and it is less expensive in Hong Kong. Overall, I feel that working for the IHG brand is suitable for me because it allows me the chance to grow and learn from my coworkers and guests. I am really excited to stay here for 1 year and possibly longer.

So…CP front

My life as an intern in Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre has been exciting and eventful.  I am a Guest Service Management Trainee, at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre. The Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre soft opening was on June 25th 2011. Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre is an exclusive international 5-star standard hotel that features 460 guest rooms and suites with a city view or Bai Yun Mountain view. It is known as the 63 Building with 3 restaurants, gym facilities, lobby lounge, 2 ballrooms, and 9 meeting rooms.

Overall, I work five to six days a week depending on my days off. I have different shifts throughout the week. I am living at the hotel, which is convenient since it only takes me six minutes to clock in. As well, I am able to greet guests on my way to work, which makes it a good start to the day.

Today is July 6th 2015 in Guangzhou, China.  My shift today starts from 7:30am until 4 – 5pm. For most of the day, I am located at the front desk or Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant (Fresh).  The first thing that happens in the morning is an early morning briefing for the Front Desk, Concierge, and Guest Service staff. It is a way for everyone to understand what is going on within the hotel for the day and expectation from our managers. After the meeting, I check through my emails and do online Opera training.  My Opera training is about making reservations, and checking-in and out guests. I talk to myself to practice how to speak to the guests. An Example would be “Welcome to Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre, how may I help you?”. This way I can smoothly work as Front Desk staff.


Around 8am, I head up to the 5th floor to Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant. On the way, I greet guests “Good Morning” in Chinese and/or English. Once, I arrive at Fresh. I look around the restaurant to make sure all the names for the dishes are in the correct spot and head to tables to greet guests. While I greet guests, I ask if they would like any coffee and get to know their experiences within the hotel. At times, I assist with seating guests to help the hostesses. Overall, it is important to make sure that nothing at the buffet table is empty by advising fellow staff or getting it myself. The challenge for me is about knowing the correct Chinese word for an item or request by a guest.  This is because I am an English-speaker with a beginner level of Mandarin Chinese. Another important task that I have at Fresh is to give out guest satisfactions survey cards to understand the guest opinions during their breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The survey is given to help improve the restaurant by the guests’ needs and experiences.

Other locations that I visit during the morning are the Crowne Executive Lounge Floor on the 56th floor, 50th Premium Lounge, or the Lobby. Today, I headed to the 56th floor and 50th floor to check on the morning food arrangement, staff, and guests. Once, I check over everything. I head back to either the 5th floor or front desk. Since, I am training to work on the front desk I head back downstairs to learn Opera and study information about the hotel.

RachelAround 10am, I head up to Fresh for breakfast with coworkers.  Usually for my daily meals, I can eat at the tenants canteen or Fresh Asian Buffet Restaurant.  After breakfast, I visit the 3rd floor to check on events held today. Since I do have class and work assignments. I take time to do projects for the hotel and reflect on my progress with my coworkers.

Around 12:30, I am a lobby ambassador. I help to direct guest to the front desk or other locations within the hotel. It is important to make sure that guest are directed to proper locations and ask if they need help with their bags. Once, I have stayed within the lobby for a while, I either head back to practice Opera or head up to fresh to help with lunch. I do almost the same thing for lunch at Fresh except I don’t ask people for coffee. I check to see the names are correct, food is fully stocked, and staff is okay. After that I stay for lunch for about 30 minutes.

Once, I have finished my lunch, I head back to the front desk lobby 2to have a briefing again at 2:40pm. The briefing is to inform the new shift staff of today events and information. Once, briefing is over I stay in the front desk office to review Opera training and information. I check on the front desk staff to help get documents for them. As well, it is a chance for me to learn first hand about front desk tasks. Some of the tasks are about getting documents and scanning passports. If the front desk isn’t busy, I will be the lobby ambassador or I will go back to Opera training.

Lastly, the day ends looking through my emails and saying goodbye to my coworkers. I clock out to end my shift and head upstairs to rest for an early morning shift again.

food and friendsOne of the best things, that I like so far working at Crowne Plaza Guangzhou is having the opportunity to communicate with international and Chinese guest. My coworkers help me to improve my language abilities because we learn from each with English and Mandarin. I have learnt a lot about the area and Chinese culture. As well, I had the opportunity to go to the 63rd floor known to be a formerly used helicopter landing of our hotel, in order to see the panorama view of Guangzhou.  I also had the chance to visit other hotels to learn the differences and start individual projects. I am simply living up to my dreams because the staff here is friendly, outgoing, creative, and respectful. They are all leaders in their own way. I wouldn’t be successful in my training without their help and encourage. There have been endless experiences that I would love to mention working here for my internship. However, it is easier to experience it for yourself.

Take a leap of faith and work abroad.




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A Day in the Life at Tui China – By Elva Han

Greeting from Beijing, China! First of all I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your internship. I am Elva Han. Starting from June, 2011, I have worked at TUI China as an operator in the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, and Exhibitions) department.

Front Desk & Company Logo

China has long been a popular tourist destination thanks to its rich historical and cultural attractions, as well as its breathtaking natural landscape. China’s economic development and reform has helped the nation become the second largest economy in the world as measured by GDP. Domestic Chinese travel is no longer the high growth segment it used to be within the travel industry, rather there is more emphasis being placed on exciting, exotic outbound travel. Many more Chinese can afford expensive outbound travel in order to experience different lifestyles and environments. With rising living standards, China’s outbound tourism has been developing fast. In 2011, outbound travelers reached 47 million (that number is more than the total population of Canada) to more than 130 travel destinations around the world. In spite of my major in hospitality, I decided to do an internship with Tui China, one of the premier international tour service agents in China. Due to the Germany-based company background, our clients are mainly from automotive industry like BMW, Porsche, VW…

The transition from academic to professional life is not easy. It requires learning a great deal of soft and hard skills. I am trying my best to manage daily business. I have learned a great deal and believe my experience as an intern will be highly beneficial to my future career.

Office Building on Chang'an Avenue, Beijing

My daily work schedule:

I wake up around 6:30 am with a 10 to 15 minute “cooling period” to allow my sleepy eyes to open. My morning routine lasts about an hour. Soon after that is completed, I enjoy my mom’s home-made breakfast and I let myself enjoy “my day of appreciation”. My journey is started at 8:00 am sharp and of course it is always enjoyable and exciting.

Traffic jam on the way to office

Driving in a big city like Beijing is not easy. You have to be very astute in selecting the most efficient route without getting trampled by the daily rush hour. It is really hard to comprehend a city like Beijing which has over 20 million residents and over 8 million vehicles. Thank god, I always manage my time fairly well.

My day is about to start at 9:00 am, but before that I need a little boost; a grand sized iced latte; always my favorite.

Iced Latte, my favorite

Walking toward my office and waving hello to my colleagues, I have just a few chats to bring myself closer to the working environment. I thought the transition would be difficult at the very beginning, but when the time came to work I was proved wrong. It takes just a matter of time for me to get used to my new situation.

Turning on my computer and checking my emails is always the first thing to do. A routine morning meeting hosted by the division manager is very important. He assigns every single task to fellow division members and discusses various issues relating to Chinese Outbound Tour Groups, such as travel itinerary, visas, accommodation, transportation, and so on. I normally have a small coaching session with the division manager right after the meeting in order for me to have a better understanding of the company’s operations as well as for my division of the daily business. Around 10:30 am, I start discussing issues with my co-worker on an outbound tour itinerary. There are lots of detailed issues that need to be ironed out in regards to selecting locations, suitable accommodation, dining, and transportation. After the discussion, we go online and browse location information, check hotel prices, and talk to embassy people in regards to visa applications.

The sea of cubicles~~

There is 6 hours difference between China and Europe. I communicate with prospective clients in Europe to confirm our tour itinerary with them. Cross border communication is very interesting. I find it a useful position filling the gap between Chinese and European clients and gaining first-hand information. I then confirm the itinerary schedule and determine whether or not it is viable for our client’s budget. I have a final talk with my coworkers on the tour itinerary and report to my manager. What intense and fast-paced work.

My little cubicle~~

Suddenly, my cell phone is ringing. My mom is asking me what I want to eat. It is almost 6:10pm. Let’s call it a day so I can set myself free.

On the way home~!

Here are two links that you can look at in order to get more details about Tui China:

Tui China

Tui China press conference video

This is about Beijing, the Capital city of China:

Visiting Beijing

Here are links that you can look at in order to get more details about the projects that I participated during the internship:

BMW Mission 3

BMW: The M festival, 24H RACE NÜRBURGRING.

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A Day in Life at the InterContinental Hong Kong – Kenneth Chan

Hello World! This is Kenneth Chan blogging all the way from Hong Kong. For my internship, I am working in InterContinental Hong Kong as a F&B Trainee in the Harbourside Restaurant. At Harbourside, guests can choose either a la carte or buffet options. Most of the guest that comes usually chooses the latter option as our buffer is one of the best in town (Also the most expensive for our dinner buffet). Our lunch and dinner buffet is very popular so bookings are  almost always full everyday (Bookings should be made two weeks in advance  for the best sittings). This restaurant is called Harbourside because……’s beside the harbour!! Jokes aside, actually InterContinental Hong Kong is located at the edge of the Victoria Harbour which separates Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Harboursidefaces towards the harbour so that’s where it got its name; it has a spectacular view at the harbour and Hong Kong Island.

A view of Harbourside from the hotel lobby above

A View of the harbour from Harbourside

So, let me show you my day in life as a trainee in Harbourside. I’ll will  be using my afternoon shift that starts at 2:00pm and ends at 11:00pm for this blog as it shows lunch and dinner buffet.

Getting to work

One would imagine all the tall buildings and skyscrapers when I mention I live in Hong Kong but it has a fair share of rural places too and that’s where I live. (With my sister and her two dogs, the only reason she is living so far out from the city center) I live pretty far from hotel and usually take me about 1.5 hours to get to work so I would leave my house around 12 in the afternoon. To get to the hotel, I would need to take a bus to the Light Rail station. From there it would take me to the MTR(Mass Transit Railway) station which would take me all the way a station very close to my hotel.

A = My house, B = InterContinental Hong Kong


Before I go on, I should really talk about some of the positions that I have been trained.

There are five positions that I have been trained in at the restaurant and they are Front Server, Back of House, Hostess, Bartender and Manager.

Front Servers – Take food and drinks orders, serve food and drinks, make drinks (ex: Ice Lemon Tea, Hot Cappuccino), Collect empty plates for buffet guests, clear tables, place table settings

Back of House – Buffet table setup and maintenance during meal periods, Checking stocks, picking up linens

Reception Hostess – Lead guests to assigned tables, replying guest inquiry, answering phone calls

Bartender – bar operation, cocktail mixing, wine cellar control, checking inventory.

Manager – Supervising staffs, checking buffet tables, handling guest comments and complains, prepare the daily F&B log

Afternoon Shift

When I start my work at 2:00pm, the lunch buffet would almost be finish as it ends at 2:30pm so the first thing I do is to check which section of the restaurant I have been assigned to and go to help out at that section. My position at this time is a front server and I would clear empty plates off tables and take and make drink orders. Speed is everything in every Hong Kong job so everyone is in a rush at this time (even the guests) when guests starts to order their complementary drinks that comes with the buffet. Once the guests start to leave, I would start clearing tables and put dinner table settings down for the night buffet bookings.

By 3:30pm, most guests would be gone except the chatty people who can chat for hours and new guest would arrive for our afternoon tea set. Since there is significantly less guest during this time, I would use this time to fill up my section (Cups, plates, utensils and towel) and check to see if the table settings are in the correct order.

Today is a little special because there is a wine tasting class at 4:00pm. This class is provided by InterContinental to give the employees knowledge about the upcoming promotion wines.

A Picture with the wine trainer and my colleagues

Around 5:00pm, it’s lunch/dinner time! The staff canteen “Chopsticks” is very close to the restaurant so it is very convenient for me and my colleagues. Sometimes I might see fellow classmate Vicky Chan and RRU Alumni Sara Ngai eating as well but I only see them mostly during my morning shifts.

Everyone enjoyed their lunch 🙂

My break ends an hour later at 6:00pm which is just before start of the dinner buffet at 6:30. At this time, I will help out the reception hostess and lead guests to their assigned table. Once most guests have arrived, which would be around 7:00, I will go back to my assigned section to help out. As I help emptying plates of guests’ table, I will also need to check up on other servers as well as the buffet table to see if everything is in order. This is part of what being a manager is about and also the role I am training today.

mmmm...lobsters.... Too bad I can't have them

Colorful and tasty, what more can you ask for?

At 8:00pm, most guests attention will be directed towards the outside view as it is the time for the “A Symphony of Lights” which is the World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show. Other notable scenery include various boat tours with some awesome looking sail boats

This boat attracts many cameras including mine

Around 8:00 to 9:00, as people start to settle in and had a few plates of food in their stomach, I will check up on the guests to see if they enjoy their meal and if there are any problems. As 10:00 approaches and the dinner buffet ends, it is time for me to start clearing tables, put down morning table settings and help with closing the buffet.

At 11:00pm, my day is finally over but not everyone else as the restaurant is still open until 12:30pm. I sign out, get changed and make my way home.

A picture taken just before I leave

Going home is a bit faster at night as there are fewer people (although it is still much more than Victoria in day time) so I get would get home around 12:30pm. After the daily hygiene activities, email checking and some internet surfing. I finally get on the bed around 2:00pm and get some much-needed sleep.

Life as an InterContinental Hong Kong Trainee

There are many other trainees at InterContinental Hong Kong from many schools throughout the world with me and Vicky being the representatives from Canada. We have many activities together which includes our monthly meeting, the trainees outing and volunteer activities. Check out some of the pictures below. Alternatively, go read Vicky’s blog for more pictures

Volunteering at Po Leung Kok

A outing with all the trainees and ex-trainees at Shek-O. It was a fun day

There are 5 trainees including myself just training in Harbourside

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A Day in the Life of a Shangri-La Suzhou Hotel Internship! – Joe Chen

Shangri-La SuZhou hotel(SLSZ) is located in the SuZhou New District. SuZhou is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province, adjacent to Shanghai. It is one of the fastest developing cities in China, has over 2,500 years of rich history. The integration and conflicts between traditional and modern culture make this city very unique.

As one of the most luxury five star hotels in Suzhou, SLSZ has 410 rooms,  include 275 Deluxe Rooms, 86 Horizon Club Rooms, 29 Premier Suites and 20 Serviced Apartments. At the first floor, the hotel has a Lobby Lounge, it provides 78 seats and offers cocktails, wine, soft drink, snacks and the library, next to the Lobby Lounge is the hotel’s Café Soo, “Soo” is the pronunciation of “Su”. Café Soo has 196 seats and provides breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet. As SLSZ has a lot of Japanese customers, a Japanese restaurant is available in the same floor. At the 2nd floor are three ballrooms and a Chinese restaurant – Shang Palace, it offers different Chinese cuisine. Spa and gym are located at the 5th floor. The building includes totally 51 floors. From 6th floor to 27th floor are lending to other companies. Guest rooms are available from 28th floor to 51th floor. The Horizon Club Lounge is located at the 48th floor and servers only from floor 43rd floor to 48th. After one month working at the concierge (June 6th to July 11th), I moved to Horizon Club Lounge and started supporting the Food and Beverage section (another section is front desk).

Different department has different shifts. In Horizon Club Lounge there are four types of shifts-A,B,D,S. Because Horizon Club Lounge provides breakfast buffet from 6:30am to 10am, colleagues of shift A need to start working from 6am to 3pm, Shift B is from 14:15 to 11pm, mainly support the “Happy Hour” dinner buffet, Shift D is the manager’s shift which is from 8:30 to 17:30. Shift S is from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 9pm.

Here is a day in my life of the shift B

After lunch I went out from home to the bus stop. It was 12:45pm when I got the stop. The bus arrived very soon. It took me about half an hour to get the hotel. After I changed my uniform, it was about 1:45pm. It took me quite a while to wait for the elevator – because it located at the 48th floor. When I got Horizon Club Lounge it was nearly 2pm. I walked around to check the whole area and stayed at the Horizon Club front desk to wait for my colleagues. Another shift B colleague Grace arrived at 14:10.
Shift A Sandy and Joy handed over to us. Ten minutes later, Grace and I went down to the Back Office. Front Office includes six small departments. They are front desk (FD), back office, business centre (BC), service centre (SC), concierge and horizon club (HC). All B shift staff from each small FO department will get together at the back office before we start working every afternoon. The duty manager Peter shared the customer information with us. The occupancy was around 70% and there were several VIP arrivals need to pay attention. Grace reported that our coffee machine was broken and we would take the coffee machine from business centre to replace ours. Peter agreed because BC rarely uses it. The department meeting ended at 2:35. I went to the BC to get the machine and grace went to floor B1 to get our linens.
One of the major tasks of B shift is to prepare for the “Happy Hour” and tomorrow’s breakfast buffet. Grace needed to stay at the front desk to do same paper work and handle guest’s check in/out. I stayed in the kitchen to fold the napkins. I need to prepare for 76 seats; each needs need to 2 napkins which means I need to fold at least 152 napkins. Besides these, I also need to prepare the tableware for today’s evening and tomorrow morning. It was a very “boring” and “lonely” two-hour period. Sometimes we will have some guest come in and request for some snacks and soft drinks. But because we only serve horizon club guests (Floor 43rd to 48th) and most of them are business travelers, very few customers will come during the afternoon. 16:57, the S shift Amy came and I went to have dinner. We have 30 minutes to finish it and have a little rest. When I went back, everything was set perfectly. We have five hot dishes, fresh vegetables and salads, smoked salmon, fruits, nuts, desserts, ice-cream and cheeses.

All of these food and drinks are free during these two hours. My job is to lead customers to their seats, offer drinks, add dishes and take empty plates. I will also chat with the customers to get their comments and suggestions. Some regular customers and long-stay customers are very familiar with us. We usually have around 30 customers per evening, and today there were 27.

After the “happy” hour we need to put everything back to the kitchen. It took Grace and me half an hour to finish it. After this, one of us will count the drinks to calculate the cost and another one will count the tableware in case if we lost anything. When we finish this it was about 21:00. Shift S need to move some clean plates to the outside because we need them for tomorrow. Amy’s tasks were all done after she finished this. My next mission is to set the table. I need to change the linens on the table, put egg menu, pepper and salt, toothpick, sugar, and jams on the middle of the table with a strict order. This task took Grace and me about an hour. About 22:15, everything was done. I can finally have a rest. About 22:45, I started to close the area. All the air-confectioners needed to be closed, the meeting room, two side entrances, kitchen, two storages all needed to be locked. Grace was at the front desk to close cashier. It was almost 11 o’clock; we called the security to come up to check everything. When I got home, it was almost twelve o’clock. There are many details I do not have enough time to explain. My supervisor said that it usually took a trainee two to four weeks to become familiar with the Horizon Club Lounge F&B section and only after three months a trainee can start touch front desk tasks.

Here is the picture of my supervisor Betty

and the manager Annie

I was just accepted by the Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts Corporate Trainee program. It is a 16-month training program. From August 15th, I will start my first phase at Shangri-La Suzhou Hotel with a two-month Hotel Orientation. I will go to ten departments to get a clearer understanding of hotel operations. It is really a good chance for me to see how things work at a hotel and experience the Shangri-La philosophy.

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A Day in the Lift of Crystal Yang in Banyan Tree Hangzhou

The Dawn

When the golden sunshine breaks the darkness, the entire Hangzhou city quietly wakes up with the whisper of birds. And the lung of Hangzhou, the beautiful Xixi Wetland also emerges from the light fog.  The hotel I’m working for, Banyan Tree Hangzhou is right next to the wetland, where is called the Westbrook Resort (Xixi Haven) now.

Hangzhou – The Heaven on Earth: The Lotus in West Lake

The Xixi Wetland

“Is this all I’ve been searching for, is this all I’ve been waiting for….” One of my favoured songs recently resounded in the room at 6:30 and I quickly mute it within 5 seconds.  Slightly open my eyes and look around, luckily that my alarm didn’t wake up the other five roommates.  At 6:45, my second alarm sounds and this time I really need to kiss my lovely bed and say goodbye to it.

The morning routine takes about 45 minutes to refresh myself.  Of cause, the most important part is the makeup.  As a profession front office staff, my appearance is also part of the first impression of the resort.  Appropriate makeup makes me look fresh, smart, profession and friendly.  Living in a residence with colleagues doesn’t give me the chance to cook breakfast myself, I have to grab a quick breakfast from the tiny food shop near the residence and finish it before I on board the shuttle bus 7:40.

Smile & Be Confidence

       The sign in process is easy and quick with the finger print identify system.  The locker room is already crowed at this moment, ladies from each department are standing in front of the mirror to do the final check of their appearance – makeup, hair and uniform – everything should meet the standards of Banyan Tree.  With the beautiful Chinese style uniform, I finish the final check of my appearance before I enter the front house.  Telling myself in my mind that “Crystal, get ready, work hard and enjoy the job”, the smile on my face gives me a great beginning and the confidence I need for my day.


There are lots of things to do when I arrival the front office. The first thing I do is to check the log book and chart with staffs who is working the morning shift to see if there’s any important information I need to know (what happened last night, any special request from guests, things that need to be follow up, & any message for other departments – especially the reservation and sales department).  Then it is necessary to check the Opera system to know how many people will stay over, departure and arrive.  This information is crucial in terms of create the first impression as it help us prepare our signature welcome drinks and towels.

Going over the profile of each guest prepares me for the later communication with other departments such as housekeeping and concierge.  The white board in the office is always a helper that talks the small details of our daily operation.  Making sure we have enough towels and drink for the morning, I’m ready for my shift at 8:30AM.  Seems lots of things to do, the key is to check everything efficiently and get ready for the day.

Be the Operator and more…. the Guest Service

Answering phones sounds easy and simple, but that’s not the case for us in the Banyan Tree.   The guest service agents who are actually doing lots of other things.  The following is what I need to do:

1). Of course, transfer external/internal calls to different departments

2). Deliver the last night’s messages to the related departments

3). Record and deliver messages for other departments if they are busy and department heads if they are attending the morning meeting

4). Handle requests from the in house guests and arriving guests by contacting related departments and doing the follow up (clean the room, arrange transportation, order the In Suit/Villa Dining, late Check Out, & etc.)

5). Book Spa & restaurant appointments for guests if these outlets aren’t open yet

6). Be the information source for guests and potential guests (provide information like room types, room rate, facilities, location, direction, information of Xixi Wetland and Hangzhou, our promotions & etc.)

As front office staff, I need to know almost everything in the hotel which can influence the experience of each guest.


Banyan Tree Hanzghou

Lunch…With the General Manager

Although today is now the busiest day of the week, it is still a busy day for us in order to satisfy the guests’ requests and to assist everyone who calls the resort.  Time flies and it’s time for lunch.  Typical Hangzhou dishes are served in our staff cafeteria, which mostly use the local and signature Hangzhou ingredients.  With my lunch, I seat beside the biggest table and wait for other colleagues and General Manager because I am invited to attend today’s GM meal.

This regular gathering with GM is always a good time to know the new colleagues, to know what’s happening in the hotel and to share our experience in the hotel.  Great comments are shared to encourage us, but of course, the bad ones to motivate us to improve the service.  The future plan of Banyan Tree is also mentioned to ensure we know the development of the brand and the opportunity of career development.

 Gift from the GM meal: Fan with Our Map

The Peak of the Day – Make Teamwork Your Responsibility

The time between 12:30pm and 4:00pm is always the busy to time for us.  If needed, like today, I will assist the resort hosts to check the rooms and place the personalized welcome card for arrival guests.  Walking in the resort is also my small exercise for the day while enjoying the beautiful scene.

Making sure that the rooms, welcome drinks and towels are ready is crucial parts of the check-in preparation.  Guests usually arrive after our afternoon briefing at 2:30pm.  Knowing what’s happening in the resort prepares everyone for the rest of the day.  When lots of guests arrive at the same time, teamwork always makes things go smoothly and easier.  I greet the guests, serve the welcome drinks and towels and collect IDs.  All of these help our resort hosts to efficiently check in guests while creating a great first impression.

Escorting guests to the suite/villa is always a fun job.  The unobtrusive conversation during this period gives me the chance to introduce the resort, up sell the services we provide and notices some special wants and needs.

Be Trained or Train

It is more quiet after 3:15pm and several regular trainings (Trainings for English, Hangzhou’s Tourism Hotspots, local souvenirs ant etc.) usually are hold around 3:30pm while the bit of the day slow down.  However, there is not training today so I use this time to teach the new employees in order to ensure they know the general information of the hotel.  I’m responsible to ensure that they know the resort, and the services/products Banyan Tree Hangzhou offers before they learn the specific jobs from their mentors.

After the this, I will update the training manuals if I found something information is unclear or is not mentioned.  This is also the time for the new staff to observe how to use proper language and how to handle some guest requests.  However, I like to catch every possible chance throughout the day to teach them rather than making the training time boring.

Sweet Night

Around 5:00pm, my shift is almost done.  I double check the log book to ensure all the guests’ requests are done or need to be follow up.  Then I record important issues on the operator’s book so that my colleagues can do the follow up later.  The last thing I do is to set up the lobby for the night.  The romantic set up of candle lights and rose makes the night of the resort an unforgettable experience.

Romantic Evening Set Up of the Lobby

Saying goodbye to my colleagues, a long day is ended and I am going to charge myself with the delicious Hangzhou cousin.  Tomorrow is my day off so it’s time to explore this beautiful, city which is known as the “Heaven on Earth” in china.  Ciao and have a sweet dream!

Life in Hangzhou

The Copper Museum: Copper Lotus

“Sir. Do you want more tea?”

The House of  a Qing Dynasty’s Government Officer

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A Day in the life at China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel by Kevin Li

Hello from Guangzhou, China. I have been doing my internship as an F&B management trainee at China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel since June 2011. To begin with, I would like to give you some facts about China Hotel. China Hotel was opened China Hotel first opened on the 18th of June 1984 and became the first hotel managed by Marriott in Mainland China in 1998. After that China Hotel changed the name to China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel. China Hotel, A Marriott Hotel, has 18 floors, offers 736 guest rooms, 114 suites; it has 8 Restaurants and Bars, 16 meeting rooms, including a large Ballroom (24,262 sq ft. of total meeting space). (

Four Seasons Restaurant Dining Area

After a quick tour in F&B outlets in China Hotel by working in its 5 restaurants and steward, I start working in Café veranda the busiest F&B outlet from July 1st. A normal day for me in Café veranda would look like this.

VIP room in Prime Steakhouse

Starting a new day is always exciting but difficult at the same time. I can’t believe I almost overslept. It’s 5:30 already. To get to the hotel by 6:15, I have rushed for a quick shower and have my breakfast within 30 minutues. Guangzhou’s summer is hot and humility, even a 10-minutes walk from home, I am already sweating at the moment I reached my locker.

6:30:  Show up in Café Veranda. Café Veranda has approximately 250 seats, it offers A La Carte and buffet in breakfast. First thing I will do is to check the supervisor logbook and the dinning reservation. In the supervisor logbook, information such as the hotel occupancy rate, memo and reservation. I can have a basic expectation of what is going on today.

6:45: A 5-minute-morning briefing was held in the kitchen area.  The morning shift supervisor holds the briefing. Staff will be assigned to different sections.

7:00-10:30: Café Veranda start providing the breakfast service.

I would like to share a sample service sequence to demonstrate how I serve a guest.

  • Greet the guest: “Good morning, how are you doing today?”
  • Enquire for seating: “Would you like to sit at a smoking or non smoking table? Would you like a table by the window or shall I get you a table near the buffet? “
  • After seating the guest, I will ask, “May I serve you some coffee or tea?”
  • Through breakfast I will chat with the guest, try to build on relationship and record their preferences. Besides that I will also clear empty plates and glasses and refill coffee or tea in a timely manner.

10:30: Time to have my early lunch in associate restaurant. The lunch is free, you only need to tap the associate ID card at its entrance.

11:30: Back to Café Veranda. Our lunch buffet is open from 12-14:30. I need to ensure the food listed on the printed out lunch buffet menu, which will be different everyday, has matched on food on the buffet table.

Cafe Veranda

12:00 -14:30: Cafe Veranda offers A La Carte and buffet for lunch as well. Different from the breakfast, Café Veranda will have theme buffet based on the promotion. Café Veranda hosts different theme festival every month. For example, from August 19th to September 4th, we will have a Southeast Asia festive. Today, we need to collect lunch ticket from the guests who were prepaid by their company. Once the guest set down, we need to serve them coffee or tea, at the same time ask for the lunch ticket. As today we do not have much guest order A La Carte, restaurant gets slow at around 13:30. The supervisor asks us to flipping table to the dinner setting, some staff was sent to polish cutlery.

14:30: Wouter, the F&B Service Manager and Sally, the Restaurant Manager are hosting our 15-mintute daily briefing. Basically, Sally will go though information in the logbook again, and go though the Marriot’s daily basics. Later, Wouter will share his idea about the service challenges he has observed today. Moreover, he will give suggestions or let us to discuss a proper way to improve service quality.

15:30: Time to finish my shift.

-Kevin Li

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A Day in the Life at Hilton Hefei

Ah! Home, sweet home! Having travelled abroad for about a decade and never having the luxury of staying at home for longer than three weeks at a time, what a treat and delight to be back in my own hometown and do the internship! Hefei is a mid-size provincial capital city located in East China with a population of near five million (Yes, I know this sounds magnificent to your Canadian ears, but mid-size in China standards!). Hilton Hefei is nested in the new Railway Business Development Area of the city, three minutes away from downtown.. A typical day for me as a Hilton management trainee is like this.

“Ring-a-Ding-Ding! Ring-a-Ding-Ding! Ring-a-Ding-Ding!” The alarm clock sounds on the dot at 6:50am. Ten minutes later and accompanied by my mom’s high-pitched yelling, finally I give up and stumble off the bed to the shower. The morning routine lasts a good half an hour with shaving, hair job, getting dressed and everything. Then breakfast is all ready on the table and quite a selection: soy milk, yogurt, congee, oatmeal, wheat bran, and buns. At eight o’clock, our family ready to leave. Since Dad has his own car and driver from work, Mom and I both catch a ride with him.

It’s bright and warm outside with the summer scorching heat just starting to kick in. And hustling and bustling is always the traffic. The roaring traffic boom here is something to see for my Canadian friends. If you ever think to yourself “Crazy Albertans don’t know how to drive!”— welcome to China! Actually, I rather like to think everyone here has impeccable driving skills. Bikes, scooters, pedestrians, cars and busses are all milling around and tangled up. Vehicles can change lanes any time and always do and often occupy two lanes at the same time. Scooters and pedestrians follow no regular rules either and are keen on slipping into any space between bigger vehicles. Horns are honking all the while of course. surprisingly, no one gets hurt. We live just outside downtown. I get to be dropped off first behind the back of Hilton building. This is our staff entrance.

“Zao!”, which means “Morning!” in Mandarin, I say to the security as I tap my employee card and sign in at the entrance. On my way to the office the first room I pass by is the Control Centre, where the security staff work in and all the surveillance monitor screens are kept in. I work in HR this month, and my office is located downstairs. But before entering, I have to visit the locker room first to get changed. Then my day at work starts at 8:30am. The first thing I do is opening the computer to check emails. Hilton Hefei recruits from two websites: and The employee turnover rate at the hotel is not very high, however, since we have a large team of 750 members, the recruitment work is still very heavy. My co-workers and I scan the resumes sent to Hilton Hefei HR over the Internet and look for the promising candidates. Then I call them up, check to see if they are still interested in the positions and ask some background questions. I then schedule their first interviews. The first interview is set between HR and the applicant. These interviews normally take place in the afternoons. After the first interview, the applicant gets the HR signature and qualifies for a second interview with the specific department that he or she has applied for. If both interviews are successful, then the reference check process begins. Before the applicant is hired, he or she has to go through a medical examination and other administration paperwork. Anyway, from seeing hundreds of resumes every day what I find surprising is the diversity of the applicants’ background. A good percentage of the applicants who apply for front line positions have a high education level and their certificates are in anything but hospitality. The competition for Hilton jobs is tough!

While calling up job applicants and scheduling interviews, I am also lending out locker keys to the unmindful colleagues. When somebody forgets his or her locker key upon arriving to work, I am responsible to get him or her signed up for an extra set.The morning runs fast and before I know it, it’s already past noon. My lunch hour is between 12:30 and 1:30pm. The cafeteria food includes a wide variety of items, all Chinese dishes of course. The food is free of charge and not bad, surprisingly. But Mom always insists on me bringing her nutritious combination. At lunch hour, I chat up with co-workers about anything: work, cars, politics, FIFA, and Canada, now that they know I have studied abroad. The notice board at the cafeteria displays the photos of the employees who are having birthday today. The birthday employees can go to the HR office to receive birthday-wish cards from the hotel management and small gifts. It is also my job to get their signatures and then offer a selection of gift options such as backpacks, shaving kits, Hilton cups and t-shirts—all household items that the employees can really use in everyday life. I enjoy this part of my work very much. It always puts a smile on an employee’s face. I think this simple gesture from the hotel shows how much Hilton cares for each individual.So when I finish lunch and there’s still time left, I normally visit the Knowledge Room, where I can watch TV, read a magazine and just relax for a while.It’s 1:30pm. The interviews are about to begin. A separate Interview Room is a couple of doors down from my office. I set up the room by turning on the AC and then review the interviewees’ resumes in detail. From the information on the resumes, I try to ask questions that are specific and unique to each individual. It’s always exciting to do the interviews. Even though the positions that I interview for are mostly in the front line, I feel like every day I learn more about how to conduct interviews and how to act professionally. So my afternoon is spent between Interview Room and my own office. The official time to go home is at 5:30pm. However, my colleagues and I usually volunteer to stay longer as there is always work to do in the office. We don’t see this as overtime or some unfair labour practice on the hotel’s side. Rather, the work culture here is such virtually in any type of office setting in China. I usually stay until about 6:30pm. But when it’s really busy I go home around 8.

Outside, it’s hustling and bustling still. Since my home is close by, and now the temperature is much cooler, instead of slipping into a fully loaded bus, I usually take a walk home. It does the exercise and gives me a chance to feel the city and see all the restaurants and shops along the way. Besides, it’s a nice change from a busy day in the office. Unless you go out to dine for social occasions, dinner is usually light in Chinese culture with only “rice and beans”, so to speak; or actually, we prefer to eat congee in the summer, for it provides your body with a lot of water and is very soothing.

After dinner, my family usually watch TV, maybe chat about what’s new with my relatives and discuss summer vacation plans. I already have the Sichuan Basin and Hainan Island in mind to visit, in a month or so. But for now, I remain focused on my learning in the HR department and the internship development.

Off to bed at 10:30pm.

Simple life at home. The way I like it.

Good night!

– Matt Chen

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Ben Gregoire, BA IHMN, speaks about his experience in China

Margaret Doyle, Internship and Industry Relations Coordinator, spoke with Ben Gregoire, graduate, Bachelor of Arts in International Hotel Management, on Facebook about his experience in China. “Ben went to China for his internship and has stayed on. I wanted to find out why. Here’s his response which he managed to get past some of the Facebook roadblocks in China.”


M: What prompted you initially to decide on China as your internship destination?
B: Initially, I never thought I would have gone to China for an internship. I had been pursuing an internship with a small boutique hotel in Bali, Indonesia. I had practically picked out my surfboard and had dreams of spending my free time on the beach. Due to local visa restrictions, I was unable to get an internship and had to restart my search. A fellow classmate put me in contact with Starwood Asia’s recruitment director, Evelyn Woo, and she found me an internship position at the Sheraton Kingsley Hotel & Towers in Nanjing. I made the decision to go because I knew the worldwide brand recognition that Starwood has and they have a strong growth plan which could provide me with a lot of opportunities in the future.

M: What was the biggest culture shock?
B: China is a destination that only a few people I knew had been to prior to me leaving. It has a lot of negative stereotypes that are associated with it; extreme government control, weird food, strange cultural differences etc. For me, the language barrier was the biggest culture shock. Trying to find simple things such as deodorant became an all day adventure. Although it was frustrating at first, I enjoy the challenge because of all the surprises I see along the way.

M: What’s your average work week look like?
B: My role has changed a lot since my period of being an intern. My initial position was a Guest Relations Officer, which frankly speaking, was the foreign face in the hotel. Since moving on to my second property in the city of Hangzhou I have accepted a greater role within the hotel. As Guest Service Manager, I am in charge of supervising the front desk operations. I handle all VIP arrivals, day to day operations at the front desk as well as any foreign guest problems or concerns. However I will admit my role is as extensive as my language skills. I am beginning to learn how to do check in and check outs with local guests but it is still very difficult with the language barrier. My Chinese has improved drastically over the past year but I still have a very long way to go before I am fluent.

M: Has it been hard to acclimatize socially?
B: Yes and no. As in every new city, it is a challenge at first to meet people when you don’t know anyone. I figure it takes me about a month to feel comfortable and to get to know some other foreigners in town. But in regards to socializing with locals, that is very easy. Almost everyone in the hotel would like to get to know me better and has offered to take me out around the city and to practice their English so there is no shortage of people to do things with if you are the outgoing type.

M: If you could pick out the top three benefits to your career, what would they be?
B: Working and living in China has provided me with a unforgettable experience which will have a positive impact on my future. I think that working over here has enabled me to move up the career ladder at a much faster pace than I would have if I remained in Canada. I have spoken with my GM here and he said that because of the amount of new blood in this hotel, I could be a department head by the end of the year.
My ability to speak Chinese and understand the culture here have also been huge benefits by working overseas. The way that the Chinese economy is growing, it is a very important language to learn both personally and professionally. My goal is to become fluent in Mandarin by the end of my third year in China because it will greatly benefit my career both in China and in other parts of the world.

M: Any new food you’ve discovered?
One of the things about living in China is all of the interesting things you get to eat. Some may use the word gross instead of interesting, but I believe that you should try everything at least once. Over the past year I have tried chicken feet, fish eyes, river snails, pork intestines, pigeon and other things that I thought I would have never eaten. The strangest thing though was when I had the local Nanjing delicacy, the Nanjing special egg. It was basically a hardboiled egg that had been allowed to fertilize long enough to develop a chicken fetus, feathers claws and all. Needless to say, trying it once was enough for me!

M: What would be something you took away with you from your BA IHMN degree that you are utilizing now?
I still believe the most beneficial thing I learned at RRU was learning how to work with people from different cultures. It has made me a more patient person and I learned how to lead a group of people who came from different cultures and spoke different languages.

M: How do you see yourself building on this experience?
B: I have decided to spend around five years working in China to improve my career and get the experience I need to really get ahead in the Western workplace. I feel that I am really benefitting by working overseas and I do not see myself getting the same experience back in Canada. When I decide to return to Canada I feel that my overseas experience will really help myself land an executive position in a five star property.

M: If you were recommending China as an internship choice, what would be some of the compelling reasons why?
B: Aside from what I have mentioned above, China is one of the fastest growing markets for the hotel industry. Starwood hotels alone have over 60 hotels to be completed in China by 2014. That provides interns with the opportunity to grow within the country at an amazing rate. As much as this country is growing at such a phenomenal rate, it is still in desperate need of expats to help manage these properties. So if you are willing to put in the time, you will definitely reap the rewards.

M: Do you think interns have a good chance of getting full time positions after they complete their internship in China?
B: I strongly believe that if you show that you are committed to staying in China and can adapt well to your surroundings, then you should have no problem getting hired on as a fulltime employee after your internship. I know a lot of people feel the need to return home after their time is up but during the current economic times, it may be difficult to find a job at the same level that you could be moving into in China.

Thanks Ben, what a great interview! If you’d like to find out more about internships in China, please write Margaret at